I Begin (1)

Dusk nears on the second day of my spring holiday, my first in ten years of teaching. I sit on the patio and move my pen across the page of my notebook to begin my first post for this new year of mine, 54 at 54–All Things Mexico. The task I have set for myself terrifies me, but I push the pen across the page anyway. My mind has been wandering paths as steep and twisting as the narrow callejones of Guanajuato, playing out possible topics for my blog, trying them out in my head. Why didn’t I document my time there, take vivid notes, photograph everything I loved? My fear about the course I have set for myself here makes the question come out harsh, anguished. Why didn’t I take pictures of the horses on the cobblestone streets in Ajijic? I would run to the balcony when I heard one passing by below. Why didn’t I record the sound their hooves made dancing on stone? I don’t have any pictures of the Wednesday market or the cemetery or the grackles roosting in the trees at twilight in the plaza. Why, I wonder, didn’t I photograph every doorway, every windowsill, every wall spilling bougainvillea on the street? Why didn’t I photograph every face I came to love, and all the textures and colors that layered themselves inside me, that have me missing Mexico like a river running through my California days?

white wall with window and bougainvillea

Why didn’t I take more photographs, learn more words, record the stories and the history and the rumors that came my way? Is it because I was not yet a writer in the same way I am today? In part, I know that’s true. And I didn’t know one day I’d want to write a blog about this big love of mine. I was busy taking it all in, absorbing the way it felt inside me, this foreign country where I found such sweetness, such welcome, yet where I was still so much “the other,” my white americana self a sore thumb, standing out amidst the dark hair, the dark skin of the other people in the villages. I think in my usual way I paid more attention to emotions and interactions, to the nuances of finding my way in a culture so different from the one I grew up in. I didn’t document the details, not outer or inner, only let them pile up inside me. Now I am afraid I have set myself an impossible task, but it’s one I want very much to meet. And so, as the light wanes on my California evening, I take a deep breath and reach for trust. I will find ways to write about what I love. I have already begun. A bird I don’t know in the pine tree repeats one long sliding note. I take another breath, the pen loose now between my fingers, and I know dusk settles in Mexico in just this way.

10 thoughts on “I Begin (1)

  1. Riba, we are looking so forward to your blog on Mexico. Maybe I’ll get some ideas for a painting. This picture looks like it could be nice small painting.
    Came across a good quote recently:
    “Be who you are and say what you feel.
    Because those that matter don’t mind,
    and those that mind don’t matter.”

  2. Notes from three of my four most loyal readers. And on my holiday, no less. You have all made my morning even more shiny than it was.

    And as far as the quote, Marylou and Richard, I hope to keep finding the way to be more and more true (hence, my No Holds Barred encouragement!). And if I can offer photos for your wonderful paintings, Marylou—well, I LOVE thinking that may come to be.

    Thank you, Brian, Richard, Marylou.

    I’m going swimming this afternoon, the first of my sun- and water-themed holiday. :)

  3. Oh, dear. I should have said three of my four most loyal readers who were already in my life when I began blogging, or three of my four friends who read my blog regularly.

    Because I have been blessed in recent months with loyal readers who I have never met, and I am oh so grateful for each and every one of you!

    Look! My first little post here has 4 likes already. :)

    Thank you.

  4. I didn’t even notice the second error until you wrote this. But I have superpowers here, Marylou, so I have fixed it for you. Hee hee hee. :)

  5. I understand…. as a new blogger and new writer (on hold for 35 years) I try to work from memory… from a mind that doesn’t work as well as it used to! Why didn’t I write that down when it happened!!!!?????
    Nice to find your blog.

  6. Yes! But I find I still don’t record things unless I am working on them for a reason. I actually have this weird aversion for accumulating piles of journals. . . .

    I’m glad you found my blog, too. :)

  7. Ten years ago, I spent six months in Japan and wrote in my journal every night (almost) without fail. When I read through it now I feel as if I’m back there. Between the journal and the photos, I can almost relive that six months. I started another journal when I moved to Mexico eight years ago, but when I got used to living here – when Mexico became “normal” – I quit writing in it. I just found your blog yesterday and already it is inspiring me to get my journal back out and pay more attention to the wonderful life that is going on around me. That’s what brought me to Mexico in the first place.

  8. Oh, what a wonderful thing to hear, Kathy! Thank you for telling me. And how wonderful that you have all that marvelous record of your experiences, both in Japan and Mexico. I do wish I had recorded more. Still, remembering to wake up to our “normal” lives—wherever we are—is pretty great.

    Thanks again. :)

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